Food & Drink

15 Winning Kentucky Derby Recipes

Beer cheese, Benedictine, and a whole lot of bourbon—plan your Derby party menu with these crowd-pleasing recipes
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Benedictine Spread

In a state best known to the rest of the country for its bourbon and fried chicken, Louisville’s Benedictine spread is an under-the-radar local favorite. Consider it pimento cheese’s Kentucky cousin.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Freight House Beer Cheese

This Bluegrass State staple is a cool, creamy dip that’s as simple as it sounds—beer blended with cheese, plus the cook’s choice of spices.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Kentucky Hot Browns

No matter how you slice it, this classic will feed—and please—a crowd. Our recipe makes only one alteration to the basic formula: thick Texas toast provides a more solid foundation for the gravy-topped goodness.

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photo: Margaret Houston

The Ultimate Kentucky Burgoo

One thing you can’t do with burgoo? Rush it. This crowd-pleasing stew needs at least four hours on the stove. “You want to cook the meat and vegetables until they melt into each other,” says chef Ouita Michel. “I’ve seen some pictures online, and here’s a hint: If it looks pretty in a bowl, it’s not authentic.”

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photo: Margaret Houston

Mint Julep

It’s not Derby Day without a julep. This classic mint julep can be enjoyed any day of the year.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Old-School Beaten Biscuits

Proponents of the beaten biscuit say that its firm texture and unobtrusive flavor are the reasons why it pairs better with country ham than its flakier kin. This recipe comes courtesy of The Kentucky Housewife, 1885.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Dill Pickle Benedictine

This twist on the classic Kentucky spread uses both pickled and crisp, sweet-and-salty marinated cucumbers, as well as a pinch of dill. Serve it on toast with a side of brown liquor.

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photo: Jessica Fey

Bourbon Balls 

What’s not to love about bourbon, chocolate, and pecans?

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photo: MARGARET HOUSTON

Beer Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuit dough spiked with flavorful beer cheese makes for a great comfort-food pairing.

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photo: Garin Pirnia

Mint Julep Slush

This frozen twist on the classic julep is a make-ahead batch cocktail perfect for big parties.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Bourbon “Tea”

This Bourbon “Tea” doesn’t actually have any tea. Instead it’s a concoction of bourbon, St. Germain, and an ounce of simple syrup.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Hot Brown Quiche

With all the rich flavor of the original Hot Brown but less day-of hassle, this is a fun party snack with serious Kentucky roots.

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photo: Courtesy of the Brown Hotel

Bourbon Pecan Pie

It’s hard to beat a fresh pecan pie—unless you add a little bourbon.

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photo: Johnny Autry

The Commonwealth

Kentucky’s Ale-8-One gets the cocktail treatment in this sweet-and-spicy sipper.

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photo: Margaret Houston

Bourbon-Spiked Beer Cheese

The classic cheese spread gets the boilermaker treatment in this party favorite.

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